Recruiting Rundown’s Preseason High School Top 25 Power Rankings

Liam-DuffRecruiting Rundown is pleased to introduce the preseason HS Top 25 rankings for the third consecutive year. With the season kicking off in the Mid-Atlantic this week (if not affected by the impending storms), the rankings resume on March 29th and will run every Wednesday until June.

It was particularly difficult to anoint a No. 1 this year, as a plethora of teams lost crucial contributors in the Class of 2016, a group that has already made a tremendous impact in the Division I ranks.

A number of additional factors go into putting together the rankings, including number of returning starters, transfers, strength of schedule and caliber of coaching. Though it helps depth, the amount of Division I commits doesn’t always dictate the success of a team, as the early recruitment of freshmen and sophomores skews those numbers.

With that being said, it’s hard to ignore Indiana prep powerhouse Culver Academy, checking in at the No. 1 spot and coming off of a 20-3 season. Hill Academy (Ont.) and McDonogh (Md.) find themselves in the top three – with incredibly challenging non-conference tests taking place in March, it will be difficult to make it out of the first month of the season without losses, and everything will surely play itself out.

Check back each day this week as additional preview capsules will be posted for each Top 25 squad, starting with 6-10 on Tuesday.

1. Culver Academy (Ind.)
Always combining an army of Canadian scorers with some of the best players in the Midwest, Jon Posner will trot out a whopping 27 Division I commits when the Eagles open up another challenging schedule next week. Culver graduated Denver star attackman Ethan Walker and two starters on defense, but they’re expected to be absolutely loaded at midfield, where they have five players ranked by RR. Notre Dame signee Wheaton Jackoboice will lead the charge at attack, flanked by established veteran midfielders like seniors Jackson Reid (Ohio State) and Ryan Hallenbeck (Notre Dame), as well as juniors Jake Stevens (Cornell) and William Clayton (Loyola) among others. Matthew Schmidt (Notre Dame) returns in cage to backstop a defense that will improve as the season goes on.

2. Hill Academy (Ont.)
Brodie Merrill led the Pride to its best year in school history last season – finishing undefeated against a daunting slate – and will have another roster full to the brim with top notch talent. Replacing mainstays like Jeff Teat, Dalton Follows and Jeff Henrich will be difficult, but Hill possesses a strong plethora of returners and transfers that will more than account for the talent that graduated. No. 20 senior Riley Curtis, a lefty headed to Denver, will boost an offense that will likely see several natural attackmen run out of the box and provide matchup problems. Defense may be a question mark, but that will be softened by the dominance of No. 15 senior Justin Inacio (Ohio State) at the face-off X along with his Canadian U-19 teammate Kyle Hebert in goal, a Stony Brook recruit.

3. McDonogh (Md.)
The Eagles finished the season ranked No. 1 in North America and while they waved goodbye to their top attackman, midfielder, defenseman and goalie, there’s certainly enough firepower to be considered top dog in the MIAA. BJ Farrare (Loyola) and Brandon Shure (Hopkins) are a pair of Top 100 recruits on defense, once again helping make up the league’s best unit. Lefty finisher Jack Parr (Brown) will have an enhanced role as a senior in an offense that will also welcome Duke-bound junior Griffin Catlett from Oregon along with several touted freshmen.  Finding capable replacements in goal and at the face-off dot will be crucial to the Eagles’ success, as they’ll face a schedule that features eight preseason Top 25 opponents.

4. Darien (Conn.)
Arguably the most consistently dominant public school program in the nation over the last five years, the Blue Wave will go as far as their seniors take them. Fortunately for Jeff Brameier and his staff, Darien has an excellent group of veterans despite graduating a stellar group of seniors. No. 51 senior Kevin Lindley (Loyola) is the lone returning starter at attack but incredibly talented, flanked by classmates Finlay Collins (Penn) and Riley Stewart (Brown) at the midfield. The X-factor is in between the pipes with No. 47 senior Ryan Cornell (Vermont), while Darien welcomes Notre Dame-bound senior cover man Arden Cohen to the program, who is likely the best cover man in the country. Finding contributing depth from the players waiting in the wings will be pivotal for the Blue Wave.

5. Deerfield (Mass.)
Having key players depart is nothing new for a DA program that relies heavily on contributions from postgrads, and they’ll send out another strong crew of PG’s this spring. Utah native Bubba Fairman —  a Maryland signee who many feel is the top player in North America — is expected to dazzle at attack if he can adjust to the level of play. There’s a ton of depth at midfield and defense, namely standout Canadian PG middie Jonathan Donville (Cornell) and No. 65 senior Teddy Sullivan, a Denver recruit. Though the Big Green will have to replace an excellent goalie, athletes abound on their backline with standouts like Jackson Caputo (Brown) and Griffin Thomas (Yale), while No. 23 junior Jordan Ginder (Duke) will create a possession advantage with his work at the face-off X.

6. Landon (Md.)

7. Malvern Prep (Pa.)

8. Smithtown East (N.Y.)

9. Calvert Hall (Md.)

10. Chaminade (N.Y.)

11. Avon Old Farms (Conn.)

12. Boys’ Latin (Md.)

13. Brunswick (Conn.)

14. Gonzaga (D.C.)

15. Victor (N.Y.)

16. New Canaan (Conn.)

17. Salisbury (Conn.)

18. IMG Academy (Fla.)

19. Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.)

20. Ward Melville (N.Y.)

21. Delbarton (N.J.)

22. La Salle (Pa.)

23. Bullis (Md.)

24. Brother Rice (Mich.)

25. Haverford (Pa.)

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